Pervasive Video: The Last George Zimmerman Event


Agree or disagree with the verdict, the Zimmerman case hinged on the lack of reliable eye witness testimony as to what actually happened.   Had the fight that occurred been on unaltered video (the use of the word “unaltered” will be clear in a moment) Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence would have been clear and either they wouldn’t have been on trial or, he certainly would have been convicted - depending on what that video showcased.  

Increasingly we are being surrounded by cameras on homes, on businesses, on cars (public and private), and placed around neighborhoods and cites to help make up for a shortage of police officers.    

Neighborhood Watch exists to supplement the police force but with increasing overlapping camera coverage the need for this function, other than monitoring the cameras, will likely be reduced.   Let’s talk about how tragic events like the one involving Zimmerman and Martin could have ended far differently with the coming camera coverage.  

Going to the Cause

Had there not been a burglary and an inaccurate description of the burglar in Zimmerman’s neighborhood, the confrontation likely would not have occurred in the first place - or might have been far less violent.   Homes covered in video surveillance are far less likely to be burglarized and if you have an actual picture of the burglar the identification can be far more assured.   If you can address the events that created the conflict and eliminate them, right or wrong, then a conflict won’t have to occur and a needless death can even be avoided.   

More important though, if Zimmerman knew he and Martin were on camera, he’d have known there was a record of Martin in the area and would have been less motivated to confront Martin. Also, if he knew he was on camera, and that anything he did would be open to review particularly with regard to the use of a firearm, things might have gone differently.  Had the neighborhood had comprehensive camera coverage, we’d likely not have had this event and avoided the real tragedy, which isn’t the verdict; it is the unnecessary death of Travon Martin. 

By the way, as a side note, I find it troubling that we tend to focus more on blame than assuring another event like this is avoided.  

Camera Phone

Part of what is also changing is we are all getting increasingly more capable cameras on our phones.   For those of Zimmerman’s age and older this hasn’t yet fully seeped into our behavior.  In other words, had Zimmerman thought about what he was doing he should have been taking pictures of Martin rather than confronting him physically outside of his truck.   As phones increasingly upload automatically, the pictures they take are online quickly – so even the destruction of the phone wouldn’t have destroyed the record.   Martin either didn’t have a phone with this capability, or didn’t know it could be used as a defensive weapon otherwise he too could have captured a record.  It will likely be much easier to do this with products like Google Glass that truly enable this capability because in a confrontation pulling out the phone if you are the one being confronted seems unnatural and often impractical.  

One Problem

There is one problem with cameras - the ability to edit footage, even by amateurs, is increasing very quickly. As a result it may also be that a lot of the video we see will be unreliable because it has been edited.   You may recall that Zimmerman is apparently planning on suing NBC for altering the 911 audio records to make Zimmerman sound racist. We regularly see edited video as well and have come to discover that generally Reality TV is scripted. We’ll have to take some care because clearly not all we hear or see is real and we may reach a time when being able to tell reality for fiction, even with pictures, will be increasingly impossible.  

Wrapping Up: Moving to Pervasive Video

As we move to pervasive overlapping video from homes, cars, businesses, heads, and perhaps even pets, the likelihood of a confrontation like the one between Martin and Zimmerman becomes sharply reduced.    But when a crime does happen, while we will have it on video, unfortunately the rate at which these captures can be altered is also on the rise.  So while pervasive video may help prevent deadly violence, when violence does occur, guilt or innocence can’t always be concluded quickly.

With Zimmerman afraid for his life, getting his gun back, and folks really upset with him, I doubt this event is truly over.   The opportunity for another conflict would seem high, but as more time goes on, the chance this next event could be on camera will make all the difference as to the outcome.  

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

Related Articles

Coding and Invention Made Fun

By: Special Guest    10/12/2018

SAM is a series of kits that integrates hardware and software with the Internet. Combining wireless building blocks composed of sensors and actors con…

Read More

Facebook Marketplace Now Leverages AI

By: Paula Bernier    10/3/2018

Artificial intelligence is changing the way businesses interact with customers. Facebook's announcement this week is just another example of how this …

Read More

Oct. 17 Webinar to Address Apache Spark Benefits, Tools

By: Paula Bernier    10/2/2018

In the upcoming webinar "Apache Spark: The New Enterprise Backbone for ETL, Batch and Real-time Streaming," industry experts will offer details on clo…

Read More

It's Black and White: Cybercriminals Are Spending 10x More Than Enterprises to Control, Disrupt and Steal

By: Cynthia S. Artin    9/26/2018

In a stunning new report by Carbon Black, "Hacking, Escalating Attacks and The Role of Threat Hunting" the company revealed that 92% of UK companies s…

Read More

6 Challenges of 5G, and the 9 Pillars of Assurance Strategy

By: Special Guest    9/17/2018

To make 5G possible, everything will change. The 5G network will involve new antennas and chipsets, new architectures, new KPIs, new vendors, cloud di…

Read More